“The Accountant,” directed by Gavin O’Connor (“Warrior”), stars Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, a high-functioning autistic bookkeeper who secretly works for dangerous parities (cartels, terrorist organizations and shady businesses). Wolff is brought in to look at the books of a high-tech company, run by Lamar Black (John Lithgow), after Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) suspects that there’s something suspicious about the company’s finances.
The story is also intercut with flashbacks of Wolff’s childhood and his hard-core military father training him and his little brother to fight, which made him more prepared for the dangerous work in which he specializes.
The film is much more a character piece than a cheap thriller that pops up from time-to-time on FX. The script, by Bill Dubuque, takes its time to allow the audience to get to know who the characters are and establishes an intriguing narrative, with appropriate doses of dry humor. When the action happens, steady wide shots make it easy to follow, unlike this year’s earlier film, “Jason Bourne,” starring Affleck’s good friend, Matt Damon.
For his action scenes, Affleck handles them as well as he did with his take on Batman. His fighting is brutal and unforgiving. His tactics are a lot smarter than your average action hero because he takes down his opponents to guarantee they won’t get back up.
Ben Affleck’s performance is the film’s strongest element. Affleck handles his character in a way that doesn’t become a laughably bad attempt at cheap critical praise. His performance perfectly displays the character’s struggle to socialize with those around him and understand their body language, as well as being a mathematical prodigy. These scenes are done without the need of floating numbers flying around him, but instead are done with him writing the numbers on whiteboards and windows.
The one weak point of the film was Anna Kendrick, which is a shame, since her performance in “Up In The Air” shows that she can handle serious roles. Her performance felt out of place, like she was supposed to be in a different film. She’s introduced as the typical socially awkward modern movie character and doesn’t know when to stop talking. Her scenes fall flat where she is supposed to create a connection with Wolff because her awkward presence slows the pace. Her character is present only to further drive the point that Wolff struggles to make connections towards the people he meets. Kendrick then turns into the damsel in distress that Ben Affleck protects in the film’s second act. The film would flow a lot more smoothly if her character was written out entirely.
“The Accountant” is not going to be a film that will satisfy audience members expecting a non-stop action thrill ride. Even though the film overreaches at times and has a few predictable twists, it stands out due to its different take on the action-thriller genre and creating a potentially interesting franchise to further explore an autistic Jason Bourne/Will Hunting.